Disintegration's Single-Player Blends Unique Gameplay with a Heartful Story

Marcus Lehto, co-creator of the Halo Universe, gave us a sneak preview of the world in the single-player of Disintegration. Here's what we found out.

If you’ve been playing games as long as I have, things can start to blur together. The endless sea of militarized first-person shooters, free-to-play MOBA’s, and don’t even get me started on battle royale titles. That’s why when I learned about Disintegration, I was immediately interested, and you should be too.

Disintegration is the latest project from Marcus Lehto, one of Halo’s co-creators and, according to his Twitter bio, the Father of the Master Chief. This time around, Lehto didn’t want to make just another first-person shooter. Yeah, last time he helped make the first-person shooter, but eventually, you get tired of doing the same old thing, right? While Disintegration maintains some of its creator’s FPS influences, it is seeking to subvert them with real-time-strategy mechanics.

After getting an extended look at Disintegration’s single-player mode in a recent preview, here’s what you can look to expect.

Blending FPS And RTS

The main feature of Disintegration is its unique blend of FPS and RTS game mechanics. This combination results in an experience I’ve never had in a game before. That being said, I should be clear – I’ve played a match of the game’s multiplayer, but its single-player elements are totally foreign to me.

Throughout the game, your character rides on a grav-cycle, which is basically what it sounds like. It’s not quite a giant flying metal motorcycle, but it’s pretty close. Oh, and it’s armed to the teeth with futuristic weapons.

From your grav-cycle, you participate in battles in a couple of ways. First off is the most straightforward: you just fight. Like I said, grav-cycles are loaded for bear, and it’s up to you to decide when to get more involved in fights or back off.

Likewise, there are different kinds of grav-cycles for you to ride. Each mission, players will be outfitted with a new one, loaded with different weapons and abilities. For instance, in my time with the game’s multiplayer, my cycle was clown-themed, like something out of a futuristic Twisted Metal. It specialized in taking down other cycles with sticky grenades that deal out massive amounts of damage. Naturally, you could direct that down towards the ground at enemy infantry, but that’s what you have your units for.

While the grav-cycle’s flight and omnidirectional movement are great for going on the offensive, it’s also perfect for commanding your troops, which is the RTS part of Disintegration. From up above skirmishes, you can command a robotic squad of fighters to attack enemies on the ground or in the air, or direct them towards objectives.

Units also have their own variants with different capabilities and powers. Some bots are heavier, built less like humans and more like walking tanks. Naturally, they boast heavier firepower and more armor. Then you have your smaller bots more reminiscent of humans. They act as true assault weapons with better mobility and medium armaments.

According to Lehto, bringing both of those facets together – your grav-cycle and commanding your troops – is what makes Disintegration a wholly new experience. Think of them as your left and right hands, and you use them in conjunction to clap.

A Twisted Tale of Robotic Sci-Fi

One of the key takeaways from my time with Lehto was that Disintegration, while putting gameplay first, isn’t lacking in story. Lehto began writing the story before coding for the game’s alpha even began, according to him, a year after he left Bungie. It’s a part of the story he’s exceptionally proud of, and it seems like something that fans of deep, robust storytelling, both spoken and visual, will end up appreciating.

Let me set the scene first. It’s 150 years into the future, and humanity has, to put it gently, hit some bumps. After pandemics, global food shortages, and climate disasters, our species is on the brink of destruction. The decision is then made to begin the process of integration for some humans. The process takes a human’s mind and implants it into a robotic body, relieving them of those basic, and sometimes fatal, human needs.

In the time since, humanity, or rather, the integrated, have been accosted by a new foe. Dubbed the Rayonne, this faction sees these new robotic bodies as the natural step forward in human evolution. Led by a disgraced leader of the faction named Black Shuck, the group seeks to integrate any humans, now called naturals, and add them to their ever-growing army.

That’s where your character steps in. He’s named Romer, and before being integrated, he was a 30-year-old grav-cycle enthusiast. Now, you lead him and a group of other integrated humans on their quest to restore their humanity. As it turns out, copies of human bodies have been cloned, awaiting the day when the Earth can once again support less sturdy forms.

What’s worth understanding here is that every character, although presented with a hardened metal shell, is very human underneath. They’re all just regular people, thrown into a situation that they want no part in. And as they continue together, they grow closer together. That’s where the game’s player hub comes in.

Between missions, you’ll have a bit of downtime. It’s here that you’ll step off your grav-cycle and be able to actually interact with members of your crew. These moments are simple narrative storytelling and have no effect on your gameplay, but according to Lehto, they’re part of what breathes life into the post-integration world.

To Integrate or to Not Integrate?

Disintegration is shaping up to be one of the more unique titles this year. Its unique blend of FPS and RTS has me interested from a gaming perspective and the storytelling fan in me is excited to experience the world that Lehto has formed.

It’s also hard to ignore the team that’s worked on this game and their pedigree. Besides Lehto, the team of developers at V1 Interactive is made up of industry veterans. According to Lehto, they’ve produced something that would be comparable to a AAA studio with a team of 250, all with their own small 30 person squad.

If you’re interested in Disintegration, you can continue to follow the game’s development here on its official Twitter page. Naturally, you can also follow progress on the game’s site here.

Disintegration doesn’t have a set release date just yet, but it is set to arrive at some point in 2020 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

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Otto Kratky

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